Thursday, October 27, 2016

Film Review: 31st October

I know this film will be off the screens tomorrow morning, but for what its worth, sharing the review:
31st October, 1984 is not a day to be easily forgotten - in the subcontinent, and elsewhere. Oct 31 to Nov 4, the capital city of India turned into a case study of state sponsored genocide.

Over the years, I have read multiple books, seen countless documentaries and read endless reports to understand, as much as possible, what happened there. This is one more real life account. But one very under-represented aspect of that pogrom, was the brave neighbours who risked their own life, their property and families, to save their Sikh friends and neighbours. This film tells that story rather well.

Also, this is a rare story of survival. The other films I saw were  films of death alone. This family survived, thanks to the humanity of their friends, who crossed a city on fire to come and get them.
What is great about the film (other than, of course, the fact that its  a real story), is the art direction. I love the small lanes with drains on the side, the décor in the houses, the use of old scooters with 3
digit numberplates. Also, the costume design deserves special mention.

In the first half of the film, the suddenness of the entire episode is played out beautifully. It really was like that - people went out to get groceries and suddenly realised they could not go home alive.

But where the movie fails its audience is in its representation. The editing, as the other reviewers have pointed out, is the weakest aspect of the film.

The second is the pace of the film. It drags, and how.

The third weak aspect of the film is that the actual violence was wayyyyyyy more than what is depicted in the film. The violence appears very benign compared to what actually happened. No one was safe inside their house because the rioters had electoral lists in their hands and knew exactly where to go.

The fourth weakness is the music. Seriously, Sonu Nigam singing elegies is as far removed from the needs of the script as can be. The background music could have borrowed from rich Punjabi folk music, but it went back to predictable Opera music.

But is it worth it? You bet! The movie gently speaks some ugly truths that deserve to be spoken. Some things that will make everyone squirm - the victims and the perpetrators. The movie is not a history lesson. Its just a very extraordinary thing that happened to very ordinary people. And that's why, this is a real story that deserves to be told.

1 comment:

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I am very intrigued and interested to see this film!